Matthew Dear: Headcage EP

    Straddling the border between sleek minimal techno and skewed avant-garde pop, Matthew Dear occupies a relatively unique musical niche. This fact, coupled with his general creative restlessness, makes listening to new work from Matthew Dear an exciting experience. From the off-kilter micro-pop experiments of 2007’s Asa Breed to the dark, night-drive techno of 2010’s excellent Black City, Dear seems determined to change both his style and his aesthetic on each successive release.

    On “Headcage,” the lead single from Dear’s upcoming Beams LP and title track of this EP, we see Dear dropping the dusky atmosphere and muted vibes of Black City, preferring instead to bask in glowing, technicolor mock-gamelan synth lines and a rhythmic looped vocal refrain. The sleaziness that characterized Black City, however, is still present, with Dear luridly informing the listener that his or her “momma won’t care if we sleep out tonight” before inviting the listener to “come have fun tonight.” The resulting track is one of the most infectious, triumphant and cool songs to be released so far this year.

    Elsewhere on the EP, Dear’s approach proves less successful. On “In the Middle (I Met You There),” a collaboration with The Drum’s Jonathon Pierce, Dear crafts a fascinating, hip-hop-inspired instrumental, but Pierce’s vocals just don’t have the same punch as Dear’s would have. The EP’s other tracks, the plaintive, pastoral “Street Song” and “Around the Fountain,” are decent — if relatively uninteresting — soundscapes that pale in comparison to the EP’s fantastic title track.
    (6/10)

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